Eric Deggans

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.

Deggans came to NPR in 2013 from the Tampa Bay Times, where he served a TV/Media Critic and in other roles for nearly 20 years. A journalist for more than 20 years, he is also the author of Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, a look at how prejudice, racism and sexism fuels some elements of modern media, published in October 2012, by Palgrave Macmillan.

In August 2013, Deggans guest hosted CNN's media analysis show Reliable Sources, joining a select group of journalists and media critics filling in for departed host Howard Kurtz. Earlier in the same month, he was awarded the Florida Press Club's first-ever Diversity award, honoring his coverage of issues involving race and media. He received the Legacy award from the National Association of Black Journalists' A&E Task Force, an honor bestowed to "seasoned A&E journalists who are at the top of their careers." Deggans serves on the board of educators, journalists and media experts who select the George Foster Peabody Awards for excellence in electronic media.

He also has joined a prestigious group of contributors to the first ethics book created in conjunction with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies for journalism's digital age: The New Ethics of Journalism, published in August 2013, by Sage/CQ Press.

Deggans has won reporting and writing awards from the Society for Features Journalism, American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists, The Florida Press Club and the Florida Society of News Editors. In 2010, he made national headlines interviewing former USDA official Shirley Sherrod at the NABJ's summer convention in San Diego, leading a panel discussion that was covered by all the major cable news and network TV morning shows.

Named in 2009, as one of Ebony magazine's "Power 150" – a list of influential black Americans which also included Oprah Winfrey and PBS host Gwen Ifill – Deggans was selected to lecture at Columbia University's prestigious Graduate School of Journalism in 2008 and 2005. He has lectured or taught as an adjunct professor at Loyola University, California State University, Indiana University, University of Tampa, Eckerd College and many other colleges.

His writing has also appeared in the New York Times online, Salon magazine, CNN.com, the Washington Post, Village Voice, VIBE magazine, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Seattle Times, Emmy magazine, Newsmax magazine, Rolling Stone Online and a host of other newspapers across the country.

From 2004 to 2005, Deggans sat on the then-St. Petersburg Times editorial board and wrote bylined opinion columns. From 1997 to 2004, he worked as TV critic for the Times, crafting reviews, news stories and long-range trend pieces on the state of the media industry both locally and nationally. He originally joined the paper as its pop music critic in November 1995. He has worked at the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey and both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Press newspapers in Pennsylvania.

Now serving as chair of the Media Monitoring Committee for the National Association of Black Journalists, he has also served on the board of directors for the national Television Critics Association and on the board of the Mid-Florida Society of Professional Journalists.

Additionally, he worked as a professional drummer in the 1980s, touring and performing with Motown recording artists The Voyage Band throughout the Midwest and in Osaka, Japan. He continues to perform with area bands and recording artists as a drummer, bassist and vocalist.

Deggans earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and journalism from Indiana University.

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1:53pm

Tue March 24, 2015
Monkey See

James Corden Nods To Talk Show Tradition With CBS's 'Late Late Show'

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 3:44 pm

James Corden (left) talks to Mila Kunis and Tom Hanks on Monday's debut of The Late Late Show with James Corden.
Monty Brinton AP

Looks like it took a 36-year-old comic actor from a small British town no one has heard of to bring back the oldest of old-school American TV talk show traditions.

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11:22am

Wed March 18, 2015
Monkey See

Does Fox's 'Empire' Break Or Bolster Black Stereotypes?

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 7:51 pm

Terrence Howard (center) stars in Empire with (from left): Jussie Smollett, Serayah McNeill, Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Gray, Grace Gealey, Trai Byers and Kaitlin Doubleday.
Chuck Hodes Fox TV

As its freshman season ends Wednesday night, Fox's hip-hop family drama Empire has emerged as that rarest of birds in the broadcast TV industry: a show where the viewership is always going up.

When the series debuted Jan. 7, it drew a respectable 9.8 million viewers, according to the Nielsen company. But then the show about a family-run music empire achieved something few others have ever managed: It increased its audience every week, growing to 14.9 million viewers on March 4.

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3:04pm

Mon March 16, 2015
Television

Does Success Of HBO's 'The Jinx' Herald New Form Of True-Crime TV?

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 7:25 am

Robert Durst, filmed on the streets of Manhattan for HBO's The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.
HBO

It was the kind of moment true-crime TV fans live for but almost never get to see: a suspected murderer seeming to confess his guilt while the audience listens in.

That bombshell admission aired Sunday at the end of HBO's docu-series The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, capping a six-part series. It unfolded as something of a cat-and-mouse game between Durst, the scion of a wealthy New York family who is suspected of killing his wife, a best friend and a neighbor in separate crimes reaching back to 1982, and filmmaker Andrew Jarecki.

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2:55pm

Tue March 10, 2015
Television

New HBO Now Streaming Service Shows Consumer's Will Is King

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 7:40 pm

Richard Plepler, CEO of HBO, talks about HBO Now during an Apple event Monday in San Francisco.
Eric Risberg AP

There's a lesson at the heart of the announcement Monday by HBO that it was finally starting the standalone video streaming service they have been talking about for five months, HBO Now.

In a media world fragmented by digital technology, the consumer's will is king.

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4:33am

Sat February 28, 2015
Monkey See

Leonard Nimoy's Mr. Spock Taught Us Acceptance Is Highly Logical

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 3:20 pm

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock in the Star Trek episode "Plato's Stepchildren" in 1968.
CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images

For this Star Trek fan, Leonard Nimoy was more than the guy who played one of the most popular characters in the most popular science-fiction franchise on American TV.

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6:07pm

Fri February 27, 2015
Television

'Battle Creek' An Attempt To Break CBS's Formulaic Lineup

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 8:13 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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3:39am

Fri February 27, 2015
Television

This Season On 'House Of Cards,' It's Tough To Be The Boss

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 11:13 am

Kevin Spacey's President Frank Underwood is embattled and often frustrated in the third season of Netflix's House of Cards.
David Giesbrecht Courtesy of Netflix

When House of Cards' third season opens, Kevin Spacey's murderous politician Frank Underwood is fooling the world again.

From the very first scene, he's bringing a presidential motorcade to his tiny hometown of Gaffney, S.C., pretending to honor his father's grave for the press.

"Nobody showed up for his funeral except me, not even my mother," Underwood says in one of those sly asides where he speaks directly to the audience. "But I'll tell you this: When they bury me, it won't be in my backyard. And when they pay their respects, they'll have to wait in line."

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1:27pm

Thu February 19, 2015
Monkey See

As CBS' 'Two And A Half Men' Ends, Questions On How It Lasted So Long

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 4:12 pm

Jon Cryer, left, and Ashton Kutcher in a scene from Kutcher's 2011 debut on CBS' "Two and a Half Men."
DANNY FELD ASSOCIATED PRESS

As CBS' Two and a Half Men airs its final episode tonight, capping its 12th season, critics like me are stuck trying to answer a single, niggling question:

How did a show like this end up as the longest-running multicamera comedy in television history?

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4:09pm

Fri February 6, 2015
Television

Missing Your 'Breaking Bad' Fix? 'Better Call Saul' Will Hit The Spot

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 2:24 pm

Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman on AMC's "Better Call Saul."
Ursula Coyote AP

Here is something that seems like a spoiler, but really isn't.

The first few minutes of Better Call Saul will answer a question that nagged Breaking Bad fans since the show ended in 2013: Whatever happened to fast-talking lawyer Saul Goodman?

Bob Odenkirk, who plays Goodman, says Better Call Saul had to answer that question first so viewers could focus on the new story.

"To satisfy that a little bit gets that out of the way," he says. "Now let's go and do this journey about who is Saul Goodman, really?"

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5:16pm

Sun February 1, 2015
Code Switch

The Success Of Fox's 'Empire' Reveals A Few Do's And Don'ts For TV

Originally published on Mon February 2, 2015 11:12 am

Taraji P. Henson, left, and Terrence Howard star as Cookie and Lucious Lyon in the Fox TV show Empire.
Chuck Hodes Fox TV

The TV industry is scrambling to understand the runaway success of Fox's Empire, the story of a family-run hip-hop music company that has set ratings records in its four weeks on air.

The questions, as always, are simple: Why are people drawn to this show? And how can a TV network pull it off again?

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4:40pm

Fri January 30, 2015
Sports

NBC Courts Women In Hopes Of Record Super Bowl Broadcast

Originally published on Sat January 31, 2015 9:59 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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5:20pm

Thu January 29, 2015
Television

NBC's 'Parenthood' Ends As A Family Drama Built On Small Moments

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 10:07 am

The stars of Parenthood include, left to right, Erika Christensen Peter Krause, Bonnie Bedelia, Craig T. Nelson, Lauren Graham and Dax Shepard.
NBC Justin Lubin/NBC

It happens at least once every episode: A scene in Parenthood carefully crafted to make you cry.

Like the moment when devoted parents Adam and Kristina Braverman try to console their son Max — who has Asperger's syndrome — after a school camping trip goes bad.

"Why do all the other kids hate me?" Max Braverman asks, voice wavering, just before telling his disbelieving parents a classmate relieved himself in his canteen during the trip. "Asperger's is supposed to make me smart. But if I'm smart then why ... why don't I get why they're laughing at me?"

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3:24pm

Mon January 26, 2015
Television

Intended For Millennials, Dish's Sling TV Is A Cord Cutter's Dream

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 6:57 pm

Joe Clayton, president and CEO of Dish Network, introduces the Sling TV earlier this month at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Jae C. Hong AP

A few days ago, I entertained myself for a few minutes watching ESPN's Stephen A. Smith lose his cool — this time, over an "incompetent" NFL for not interviewing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady regarding the team's deflated-football controversy.

But what made this moment noteworthy, was where I was watching Smith: not on a TV connected to a cable box, but on my iPad. Thanks to Sling TV.

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6:19am

Mon January 26, 2015
Television

Sling TV Could Be Cable-Cutter's Dream

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 8:03 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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3:44am

Mon January 19, 2015
Television

Larry Wilmore's 'Nightly Show' Brings A New Voice To Late Night TV

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 1:22 pm

Larry Wilmore at the TV Critics Association's Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif.
Richard Shotwell Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Larry Wilmore nearly succeeded Stephen Colbert with a TV show called Meet the Rest.

The title was a cheeky reference to the way Sunday politics shows tend to feature only one kind of guest. But it was also a reminder that his new Comedy Central series — which he eventually settled on calling The Nightly Show — is also a distant parody of all the panel shows and group discussions that clog Sunday morning television and cable news.

At least, that's the plan for now.

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4:29pm

Tue January 13, 2015
Television

Woody Allen Is The Latest Hollywood Star Director To Try TV

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 6:47 pm

Amazon has announced that Woody Allen will write and direct a new half-hour series for its video-streaming service — news that feels a little like hearing Mad Men's Don Draper just founded an Internet advertising agency.

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7:06am

Mon January 12, 2015
The Two-Way

Big Wins For 'Transparent' Make It Clear: TV's Undergoing A Revolution

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 11:25 am

Tina Fey, Margaret Cho and Amy Poehler talk onstage during the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards. Fey and Poehler hosted the awards for the third (and, they say, final) time.
Handout Getty Images

Surrounded by his cast mates and the show's executive producer, Transparent star Jeffrey Tambor faced a crowd of journalists backstage at the Golden Globe awards Sunday, and made the case for why his win as best actor in a comedy meant more than a typical Hollywood honor.

"This is about changing people's lives," said Tambor, who won his award playing a 70-year-old coming out as transgender. Earlier, while accepting his award on national TV, he dedicated his award and performance to the transgender community.

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5:36am

Sun January 11, 2015
Television

New Streaming Services Are Changing TV — And Viewers, Too

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 7:49 pm

Actors Tituss Burgess and Ellie Kemper horse around on the set of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt while filming in New York in March. Tina Fey's new TV series was developed for NBC, but will air on Netflix instead.
Steve Sands GC Images

When critics asked Tina Fey how her new series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt would be different now that it's airing on Netflix instead of NBC, she had quite the zinger ready.

"I think season two's gonna mostly be shower sex," Fey said during a press conference last week, drawing laughs. But she also had a point.

Fey's first series since 30 Rock was developed for her longtime TV home, NBC.

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4:59pm

Thu January 8, 2015
Television

Why I Asked Tina Fey About 'Charlie Hebdo' At The TV Critics Press Tour

Tina Fey speaks at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour Wednesday in Pasadena, Calif.
Mark Davis Getty Images

When I asked Tina Fey how she felt about the attack at the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, I wasn't aiming for a big headline — though that's exactly what her answer produced.

She was facing a roomful of journalists at the TV Critics Association's winter press tour Wednesday, talking up her latest television series — an eccentric comedy, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, that was developed for NBC but will be unveiled to the world on Netflix.

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3:04pm

Tue January 6, 2015
Code Switch

Rewatching 'The Wire': Classic Crime Drama Seems Written For Today

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 3:36 pm

Detectives Lester Freamon (Clarke Peters, left) and Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) kneel beside a body, befuddled.
Nicole Rivelli AP

Like many devoted fans, I jumped on the release of newly reconfigured, high-definition versions of HBO's classic cop series The Wire, binge-watching much of the show's five seasons on the HBO GO streaming service over the holidays.

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2:00pm

Sun January 4, 2015
Television

TV In 2015: Late-Night Shuffles, Big Goodbyes And More

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 8:31 am

Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman in AMC's Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul.
Ursula Coyote AP

What do a woman freed from a religious cult, a crooked lawyer and TV's longest serving late-night host have in common?

That's not the setup to an oddball joke. Instead, they're all part of the hottest trends coming to television in 2015, when a deluge of new shows combined with a boatload of new platforms threatens to transform the TV business over the next year.

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9:03am

Fri December 26, 2014
Code Switch

Sony Hack Reveals Hollywood's Acceptance Of White Privilege

Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 1:00 am

The Rev. Al Sharpton (left) and Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, speak to reporters after they met with Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal on Dec. 18.
Mark Lennihan AP

It is, perhaps, the worst nightmare for those of us constantly trying to get a white-dominated Hollywood to widen its doors of opportunity for people of color: All those executives who say the right things in public and give to the right causes, just might think something much less admirable about diversity behind closed doors.

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7:03am

Tue December 23, 2014
Monkey See

Videos Of Ray Rice, Eric Garner Among Biggest Media Moments Of 2014

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 1:08 pm

Protesters in Boston during a December demonstration against the deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers in New York City and Ferguson, Mo.
Charles Krupa AP

3:27am

Thu December 18, 2014
Television

Boundary-Pushing Late Night Hosts Move On — Colbert Up, Ferguson Out

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:32 pm

Craig Ferguson hosts The Late Late Show in 2011.
Sonja Flemming AP

12:53pm

Tue December 16, 2014
Monkey See

Deggans: 'Fargo,' 'True Detective,' 'Transparent' Top Best TV Of 2014

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 11:44 am

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson star in HBO's True Detective.
Michele K. Short HBO

When I was a kid, I loved reading Gene Siskel's movie reviews for the Chicago Tribune.

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3:07pm

Fri December 12, 2014
Television

Even If Torture Doesn't Work In The Real World, TV Has Us Convinced It Does

Kiefer Sutherland (right) with Peter Weller and JoBeth Williams on Fox's 24.
Fox TV

As the CIA and Senate Intelligence Committee clash over whether so-called enhanced interrogation techniques are considered torture, another question arises: Have depictions of torture on TV and film helped convince us that it works?

Consider this warning that recently greeted viewers of ABC's political soap opera, Scandal:

"The following drama contains adult content. Viewer discretion is advised."

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4:09pm

Tue December 9, 2014
Television

'Sons Of Anarchy' Ends As A Macho Soap Opera Often Anchored By Women

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 6:47 pm

Charlie Hunnam co-stars with Katey Sagal (center) and Drea De Matteo on FX's biker drama Sons of Anarchy.
Prashant Gupta FX Network

Sons of Anarchy is probably the most macho drama on television, featuring a gang of gun-running, porn-making bikers.

But the biggest moment of the final season has featured a woman: Gemma Teller (played by Katey Sagal), mother to biker club president Jax Teller. Gemma admitted killing Jax's wife, Tara, and lying about it, which started a gang war.

When Gemma finally came clean, Jax insisted she pay the ultimate price.

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11:38am

Sat December 6, 2014
Code Switch

Four Lessons From The Media's Conflicted Coverage of Race

Originally published on Sat December 6, 2014 1:52 pm

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani appeared on the Fox Business Network earlier this year. He has been a frequent cable news commentator about the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases.
Rob Kim Getty Images

Now more than ever, America needs productive conversations about race, stereotyping, police, crime and social justice. And too often, our national media continues to fall short.

After many years of dissecting how race works in media, I was both disappointed and but, sadly, not surprised by much of the coverage so far. It repeats many of the same mistakes we've seen for years in how we talk about race-fueled controversies in America.

We don't have the right conversations.

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3:17am

Thu December 4, 2014
Television

Hate The Idea Of 'Peter Pan Live'? NBC Is Counting On It

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 10:40 am

NBC is hoping you might just hate Peter Pan Live! (starring Allison Williams) enough to watch it.
Virginia Sherwood AP

It's one of the biggest ironies of NBC's gamble tonight with the blockbuster production Peter Pan Live!

This incredibly earnest TV musical just might succeed if enough people hate it.

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4:53pm

Fri November 28, 2014
Television

Diversity On 'The Walking Dead' Wasn't Always Handled Well

Originally published on Fri November 28, 2014 6:22 pm

Chad Coleman, left and Sonequa Martin-Green star as Tyreese and Sasha on AMC's The Walking Dead.
Frank Ockenfels AMC

Language advisory: Quotes from The Walking Dead in this story contain language some find offensive.


For The Walking Dead, it was less like a conversation between two characters and more like a mini manifesto.

The moment came during an episode called "Four Walls and Roof," as Bob Stookey spoke to hero Rick Grimes about a central theme this season: keeping your humanity in midst of a zombie apocalypse.

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